Working from Home

Suggestions on How to Become Established as a Freelance Translator

At first sight working from home may appear the perfect solution, especially for (young) mothers. The most important thing is to ensure that your family understands that you are at work when you are at your desk.

Tips

Explain to your children that you are at home unless you are at your desk. When you're at your desk you are at work and only to be disturbed on really important occasions.

Give your children a few minutes of quality time when they first come home from school. As a consequence they will be much more likely to respect you being at work for however long it takes you to finish that all important job.

    You need a suitable home office, a room that gives you enough space and peace and quiet to work. Make sure there is enough natural light. Position your computer in such a way that you have sufficient daylight without direct sunlight on your screen. The monitor must not be positioned too high because you risk your eyes becoming dry by staring upwards, but not too low so that your chin slumps. You'll find lots of advice on the Internet on how to set up your office ergonomically.

    Ensure that your heating arrangements are adequate and avoid draughts to the eye (for example from fan heaters) and air that is too dry. Your eyes are important, look after them!

    And last but not least: It is absolutely essential that you have a desk and a chair that are completely right for you. Sitting for prolonged periods in incorrect postures will do your back no good in the long term, nor your neck, shoulders and wrists. As you have no colleagues who may notice bad habits, it's totally up to you to "watch your back".

    The dangers of working from home

    I found there to be one very big danger when you are working from home: Without any distractions, you get so engrossed in your work that you don't get out of your chair for hours. At the end of the day your back hurts, your shoulders are uncomfortable, your eyes are tired.

    So do get up every now and then, walk around, do some stretching exercises! Your body will thank you for it! Also, indulge your body and mind by doing some proper regular exercise. Take up swimming, go to the gym, join a dance club, go for regular walks, anything that gets the muscles moving. Our bodies weren't made for sitting! Exercise will make you feel better and, ultimately, you'll also be more productive.

    Working from home also means that you miss out on the social life that you would usually gain by working in an office with other colleagues. You are mainly working in isolation: Another reason to join one or two of the other above activities. That way you are not only keeping fit but also establishing a social network without which life is so much drearier.

    Beware of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). Pain may creep up on you slowly! Right wrist, left arm, shoulders and back are most likely to be affected. If you start developing any kind of regular pain somewhere, look closely at how you are working and visit your GP. Do not ignore it! It won't go away unless you change your way of working!

    See my detailed information page on Repetitive Strain Injury.